General programme, activity sheet

Friday 19 September, 2014 10:30 to 11:00 Oral presentation
Differential object marking in Spanish speaking heritage speakers in Germany
Authors: Katrin Schmitz

Heritage speakers are generally defined as bilinguals living in a social and familial setting speaking the minority language of their parents. There is vivid discussion of whether the heritage language spoken by heritage speakers and their children is affected by language loss/attrition or even incomplete acquisition or whether a gradual process of language change is at play. The phenomenon of Differential Object Marking (DOM) referring to the use of a preposition with direct accusative objects under particular circumstances is an ideal testing ground due to its complexity and potential vulnerability: According to Von Heusinger (2008) and Von Heusinger & Kaiser (2011), DOM can be defined first with regard to semantic and (discourse) pragmatic properties of the direct object such as animacy, definiteness, specificity and topicality, and second with regard to the lexical semantics of the verb (e.g., telicity), affectedness and selectional restrictions with respect to the position of the direct object. To date, there are few studies on the acquisition of DOM in Spanish: see Rodriguez-Mondoñedo (2008) for monolingual Spanish L1 acquisition, Guijarro-Fuentes (2011, 2012) for the acquisition of DOM in Spanish L2 acquisition (L1 English), Guijarro-Fuentes & Marinis (2011) for the acquisition of DOM in school-aged bilingual English-Spanish children, Montrul & Bowles (2009) for DOM in Mexican heritage speakers in the United States. The maintenance of DOM in heritage Spanish combined with German is expected to differ from the results for the language combination Spanish/English since German has overt case-marking. The talk will present data from a preliminary study with semi-structured interviews from 23 interviews with first (n=8) and second generation (n=8) migrants and a control group (n=7). It will be argued that heritage speakers acquire a complete, but changed variety of the heritage language due to language contact.
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Paper session D2
Place: Room 0

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